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the truth

“A wanted truth is always stronger than an evidenced truth.”
Scott Adams

Sometimes Scott Adams blows my mind. This is one of those simple statements that is so dense with implication that it’s hard to take it all in. I had hoped he would expand on the idea, but he didn’t so I’m going to give it a shot.

When we choose to believe in something it starts to gain a sort of weight. New pathways are built in our mind and the more we experience the world through these new pathways the more cemented they become. If I believe “9/11 was an inside job” I begin to see little pieces of evidence that all work to reinforce my believe through a principle known as confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias (also called confirmatory bias or myside bias) is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.[Note 1][1] As a result, people gather evidence and recall information from memory selectively, and interpret it in a biased way.

via wikipedia

The longer we hold a belief the more we have time to build up these selective pieces of information that make the truth we know or desire seem all the more compelling.

Here are a few of my wanted truths. Some have supporting evidence, some don’t. What are yours?

  1. Eating too many grains makes you slow
  2. Honesty will be rewarded, the liars will be uncovered
  3. Moving your own body under your own power makes you happy
  4. Hard work is it’s own reward
  5. … but it also gets rewarded with money which is worth more
  6. Politicians will always pander
  7. Perfection is undefinable and unattainable
  8. We need each other
  9. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, and it will be difficult
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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. At the risk of bringing up things that I don’t know much about, I will say that the place I’m in now has caused me to think about truth in ways that would have unsettled me before. In my discipline, or at least among most of my professors and the research I read, it is taken for granted that truth is contestable and that ‘bias’ is a red herring because our understandings of the world are contingent, evolving, and socially constructed.

    I’m not sure I agree all of that one hundred per cent, but I think there is some truth (ha!) to Augustine’s statement that belief and understanding go hand in hand.

    To answer your questions, what are some of my wanted truths? Love is a cosmological force that transcends human culture. Caring about other people is important. I’m a nice person.

    (Those were the only ones I could think of without spiralling out into weird things about the nature of knowledge and existence, which I don’t really understand enough to know what I want!)

    January 6, 2011
  2. Carmine #

    Evidence means lots of people notice the same thing or over 50% so an evidenced truth is really just a collective wanted truth. We’re all living in our minds so whatever we believe IS true. Real truth is beyond thought.

    January 6, 2011

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